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Health Concerns Related to Misuse of Pesticides for Bed Bug Control

Public Date: 12/13/2012 12:00 AM
Contact: Kathy Forzley, Health Officer/Manager
Phone Number: 248-858-1410

​Pontiac, Michigan -- Oakland County Health Division advises residents about the potential dangers of misusing pesticides to treat infestations of bed bugs and other insects indoors following a health alert by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC alert said some pesticides approved for outdoor use only are being applied indoors which have the potential to impact the health of individuals living in the affected residences. Even pesticides approved for indoor use can cause harm if over used or if product label instructions are not followed.

"Inappropriate pesticide use is a danger to adults and children,” said Kathy Forzley, health officer/manager of the Health Division. “Because children often touch their faces and put their hands in their mouths, they are at greater risk of serious illness if they come in contact with surfaces recently treated with pesticides."

Symptoms of pesticide poisoning include headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, and muscle tremors.

To prevent exposure to pesticides, the Health Division recommends:

  • Treat the insect with the right pesticide. Some products are specific to only one insect and won’t work on others.

  • Never use pesticides indoors that are intended for outdoor use.  Product labels clearly state if a pesticide is for indoor or outdoor use.  Using an outdoor specific product indoors can harm a family’s health, contaminate a home and belongings, and cost thousands of dollars to make a home safe to reoccupy.

  • Use a licensed pest management professional when hiring someone to treat a home pest problem. An experienced pest management professional should perform a thorough inspection of a home; provide instructions about treatment preparation and cleaning; and use a combination of elimination practices. For a list of companies licensed to apply pesticide in Michigan visit: www.michigan.gov/emergingdiseases/.

  • If buying over-the-counter products to self-apply, be sure the product is in an unopened, original pesticide container; the container is labeled; and the container has an Environmental Protection Agency registration number.

  • Always follow product label instructions. Never over apply pesticides, or apply more often than the product label directions advise. Do not apply pesticides to beds or furniture unless the label allows it. Also, follow label directions when using in food preparation areas. Failure to follow the label instructions can harm the health of family members or pets. In addition, it can result in contamination of the home that can be costly and time consuming to clean up.  Do not use household chemicals such as bleach, alcohol or kerosene for pest control. They can cause negative health effects, fire or explosions.

If it is believed someone in the home has been overexposed to a pesticide, or feels sick after a pesticide application, consult a doctor or the Poison Control Center immediately. The Poison Control Center number is 800-222-1222. 

To learn more about how to effectively treat a bed bug infestation visit:

For media inquiries only, contact Kathy Forzley, Health Officer/ Manager of the Oakland County Health Division at 248-858-1410.